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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 21:36 GMT
Raich storms to victory
Benjamin Raich on his way to victory in Austria
Raich produced a fine second run to claim victory
Benjamin Raich regained top spot in the World Cup standings after winning a dramatic floodlit slalom on Tuesday.

The Austrian won with a combined time of one minute 41.67 seconds.

World champion Ivica Kostelic, lying second after the first run, crashed on his second run and was carried off the slope on a stretcher.

The 24-year-old requires surgery after tearing the cruciate ligament in his right knee and will miss the rest of the season.

American Bode Miller had led by nearly a second after the first run but could only manage fourth place following the lengthy delay as Kostelic was treated.

The turnaround in fortunes left his coaching team fuming.

"We called for slippers and they didn't come," United States coach Phil McNichol said.

"They showed up and slipped just the gates around where Kostelic was lying."

However, despite having to cope with running on fresh snow and clocking one of the slowest second runs of the day, Miller preferred to keep things in perspective.

This is the best day of my season - absolutely divine
Benjamin Raich
"The second run with that hold, it was just a bad break," he said. "The guys that finished in front of me did great runs.

"If he [Kostelic] gets hurt, they need to take as much time as they can to keep him safe. He deserves that as a racer. That's just part of the sport."

Kostelic, who also cut his shoulder, will go under the knife in Basel on Wednesday.

The Croat had surgery to remove a piece of cartilage from his troublesome right knee last month, but was back in action less than three weeks later when he competed in a giant slalom in Flachau.

Italian Manfred Moelgg was second with 1:42.24 and Finland's Kalle Palander was third in 1:42.25, while Britain's Alain Baxter was disqualified on the first run.

Raich is the only skier to have won three times on the Planai, which is considered to be the most difficult slalom course on the World Cup circuit. He also won in 1999 and 2001.

"This is the best day of my season," said Raich, who takes over from Norway's Lasse Kjus as overall leader.

"It was a super race in front of a great crowd, it was absolutely divine."

Slalom results from Schladming, Austria:
1. Benjamin Raich (Aus) 1:41.67 (first run: 50.17; second: 51.50)
2. Manfred Moelgg (Ita) 1:42.24 (50.38/51.86)
3. Kalle Palander (Fin) 1:42.25 (50.50/51.75)
4. Bode Miller (US) 1:42.37 (49.15/53.22)
5. Rainer Schoenfelder (Aus) 1:42.42 (50.50/51.92)
6. Alois Vogl (Ger) 1:42.52 (51.06/51.46)

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